Double Switch
A novel by T.T. Monday
Book review by Jules Brenner
Doubleday, released 3/1/16, 240 pp., $25.95
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T.T. Monday's second novel featuring left-handed relief pitcher for San Jose's "Dogs Bay" cum Private Eye and personal advisor Johnny Adcock is certainly proof of the theorem to "write what you know." And, while many a mystery writer has used their knowledge of dual or treble areas of knowledge, experience or study to greatly original effect in the mystery arena, few are as surprising as Monday's combo.

And, yes, if you aren't into baseball to the degree that you know what the title refers to, don't worry because he explains it (from the mound). And, this time out, he shows us just how dangerous the sport can get.

As typical noir thrillers begin with a babe showing up in a PI's office with a sob story or a plea for justice, Adcock's office is a stadium with a bullpen. And the lady, Tiff Tate, has a day job most of us never knew existed. But Adcock knew, as any pro in the sport knows. She's a PR sylist to the stars. That's Sport stars, aka, players. Yes, the big money team heros need an image-maker just as much as they need an agent (though it may not always be apparent).

She comes up to Johnny while he's busy after a game shelling sunflower seeds with a story that could make headlines. Tiff has a new client, rookie phenom Yonel Ruiz (more than a little patterned on Yasiel Puig, the Cuban phenom with the Dodgers. Ya' think?) It turns out that the mystery of how Ruiz landed on an American baseline comes down to a Venezuelan cartel who smuggled him out of Castroland.

But that wasn't out of the goodness in their hearts. These boys know a thing or two about protecting an investment and they're holding the refugee's family hostage back in Cuba for their cut of Ruiz's pie and, since Ruiz has been doing better than they expected, they want a bigger slice than that negotiated before he left the island. Maybe they didn't know how big a splash their baseball player was going to make on American fans and the subsequent payday he would command in a second season.

They certainly don't follow rules of good conduct. According to Tiff, La Loba ("The [female] Wolf"), the cartel's assassin, is on her way to work things out. Johnny, who had been worrying about the team making the playoffs, is picking up that Tiff isn't telling him the whole story. That's all he needs, a client holding back vital information. Looking into it, he finds secrets and a growing climate of fear around Ruiz as the bodies start falling.

Adcock is a well-rounded guy and a bit of a babe magnet. He's got a steady girlfriend, but there comes a time when he's obliged out of fear to bed two women in the same night.

Not quite as sharply plotted as "The Setup Man," Monday's first Adcock thriller, but he continues to load his game with uproarious fun and a spunky hero in a surprising context. It's a must for baseball fans who will know the acronyms, like HP for home plate.

If you don't yet own Double Switch and would like to purchase it (usually at a sizable discount), click here.